Italy Day 2 ~ Rome

We were very ambitious our second day in Rome.  We started out early and saw the National Monument first.  It was built to honor the first king of a unified Italy.  It is made of white marble and was completed in 1935.  Many Romans think it is ugly and too big.  It is referred to as the wedding cake by some.
      Next we walked over to the Colosseum!  I was surprised that this was my favorite monument we saw in ancient Rome.  It was fascinating to learn about how it was built and used.  To think we were walking in a stadium built in 80 AD was striking.  I learned that it was sometimes flooded to allow for simulated water battles and that in addition to gladiator battles, numerous exotic animals were imported for hunts that involved elaborate scenery with trees and bushes.
     This is the basement of the arena where the wild animals and gladiators would wait for their turn to battle.  Shafts provided instant access to arena floor so that it would appear that animals or gladiators would just arise from the floor. Skilled gladiators could become mega stars, similar to our basketball and baseball players, but their life was on the line.  It was a way for poor men to rise to glory, but only if they were great and never lost a battle.  Pretty big gamble.
     It could seat 50,000 spectators and they could evacuate within 15 minutes.  The stairs are seriously steep and shallow.  We figured the handrails were probably not there in the past either.  
      We got a ring side view as the royal families in the day would have.  The Emperors would entertain the public for free.  The show would go on for the entire day, sometimes days at a time.  On its inauguration around 10,000 animals were used and the festivities went on for 107 days!  Each spectator was given a token for a glass of wine and lunch.  This was a way of ensuring your popularity among the people.
 This is a view out one of the upper landings.  We loved the umbrella pine trees.
 A view of the Temple of Venus and Roma.
     The Arch of Constantine was a triumphant arch built for Constantine in 315 AD.  Under Constantine Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  As late as the Great Persecution from 303-311, you could be murdered for begin a Christian.  By the end of Constantine's reign he ordered the pillaging and tearing down of pagan temples.  So in 100 years in Rome you went from being killed for being a Christian to being killed if you were not a Christian!
 The view of the Colosseum from the Arch of Constantine.
      The Arch of Titus was disturbing.  It is an arch to honor the victories of Titus in the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
      They raided Jerusalem and the details inside the arch show them carrying off the menorah.  The worst part was they took Jewish slaves and made them build an arch depicting the desecration of their holy city.
 A view of the Forum.
 Beautiful poppies grow everywhere!
      The Forum is a formidable walk through history. Max and I walked hand in hand as we walked through history listening to our audio guide, imaging how grand and spectacular it all once was.
 After some lunch, we walked to the Pantheon, which means "to every God."  It is nearly 2000 years old and is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world (wikipedia).
     The Pantheon is the only building that has been in constant use since the Roman Empire.  It is was converted to a Christian church in 609.  The consecration as a church has spared it from destruction like most of the buildings of ancient Rome.  Today it is used as a Catholic church and holds the tombs of two kings of Italy.  You may sign a petition in favor of your support for the Italian monarchy.
     Our hotel was near the Pantheon, so we were able to see it by day and night.  It is a very beautiful place to have dinner and have a glimpse of what Rome looked like in its peak.
     We took a walk over to the Fountain of the Four Rivers.  Four river gods rise out of the rocks with an Egyptian obelisk at the center.  It was unveiled in 1651 and designed by Bernini.  Just another masterpiece in a city full of treasures.
 Next was the Spanish steps.
Finally a little time to sit and take it all in.  We did climb all 138 steps that connect the church to the square.  We also shared a smooch on one of the most romantic steps in the world.
 The Trevi Fountain left the greatest impression on us.  Wow!  It was spectacular.
    It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and many would argue, the most beautiful in the world.  There is a tradition that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are sure to return to Rome.  We cast our coins in with hopes of returning again one day!
     We managed to hit a home run with ancient Rome for our last day.  But, I still really want to visit the Borghese Gallery because I adore sculpture.  Hopefully our coins will ensure an return visit.

     We managed to walk by Pinocchio!  Nana was reading the story of Pinocchio to the kids.  They were thrilled when we sent them this picture :)

1 comment:

Courtney said...

I am excited to hear what your favorite city/place in Italy was! You two look like love birds. ;)